Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, August 2009
- Bright and amusing murder mystery among Napa Valley foodies. Sequel
to Death by the Glass,
followed by Lethal
- Roberto Bolaño, Nazi
Literature in the Americas
- Capsule literary biographies of thirty imaginary fascist writers, from the
US to (of course)
Chile and Argentina. It gains from two remarkable achievements on
Bolaño's part: first, while everything is made up, nothing is
exaggerated (I feel certain I have read books by both J. M. S. Hill and Zach
Sodenstern, and as for the Colonia Renacer in "Willy
and second, his literary Nazis are not just caricatures, and in some cases
(e.g., "Irma Carrasco") actually affecting. Emphatically recommended if you
are in the mood for black hilarity.
of the Dead
- Third volume of his series of Lovecraftian alternate-history space operas.
(On which, see here.) More stuff-blowing-up than I
remember from the earlier books, but still plenty of ancient extraterrestrial
secrets man was not meant to know.
- Greg Rucka and Steve
- More Antarctic crime-fiction, this time in
thriller rather than mystery mode.
- The Middleman
- I think I am demographically compelled to be charmed by this; and I
- G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker, Air: Letters from Lost
- Shivers, a.k.a. They Came From Within
- Still scary and disturbing, despite decades of intervening horror movies
about zombies, parasites crawling inside people, etc.
review is informative without having much spoilerage.) The crisis was
effective, and (in a twisted way) romantic.
- Observation: lots of attitudes have certainly changed ("she was twelve");
and while gadgets, clothes, cars, look out-of-date, the kind of life
depicted is still very much ours. You could remake this today with hardly a
change to the plot at all, except that you'd need keep everybody's cell-phones
- Query: why did Romero's zombies (i.e., the re-animated dead) take over the
world, rather than Cronenberg's parasite hosts? Did the latter involve too
much sex to fly commercially?
Sokoloff, The Harrowing
- Pleasingly creepy ghost-story about emotionally-scarred undergrads who
really should not have played around with Ouija boards. First novel; good
enough that I'll look for her others.
- Criminal Minds
- When did the networks start
broadcasting Shadow Unit fan-fiction?
(And is it too late for me to change the grade of the student last year who
"accidentally" referred to me as "Dr. Reid"?) — Series fatigue set in for
me about half-way through the third season.
- ObLink: Gladwell on profiling.
- Charles Manski, Identification for Prediction and Decision
- Review: Better Roughly Right
than Exactly Wrong.
- Jacob Kogan, Introduction to Clustering Large and High-Dimensional Data
- What it says on the label. A short book (160 pp., excluding math review
appendix and problem solutions) exclusively devoted to "hard" or "crsip"
non-hierarchical clustering, mostly ignoring statistical issues in favor of
computational ones, and emphasizing methods that scale to large problems. This
includes ingenious tricks for replacing the difficult optimization problems
implicit in most clustering algorithms with tractable smooth approximations.
The old standby k-means algorithm plays a bigger role than I'd have
guessed. Mostly pretty clear, though not an outstanding piece of exposition.
(I think the BIRCH algorithm on pp. 42--43 is wrong as written, since step 2
seems to be redundant!) More useful for those in the field, I think, than to
those who just want to cluster some data and get on with their lives.
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur;
Scientifiction and Fantastica;
Enigmas of Chance;
Pleasures of Detection;
The Running Dogs of Reaction;
The Commonwealth of Letters;
Posted at August 31, 2009 23:59 | permanent link